Parental rights at core of new state law & Title IX rewrite – but not the same

Parental rights at core of new state law & Title IX rewrite – but not the same

Parental rights at core of new state law & Title IX rewrite – but not the same

An education expert with Family Research Council says the decision by the state superintendent of education in Washington to ignore a parents' bill of rights does not compare with the Biden administration's rewrite of Title IX regulations and what's going on in Republican-led states.

The Washington law, passed by the legislature in March and implemented last Thursday, was introduced through a voter initiative. Washington's Initiative 2081 aims to provide parents with more transparency and control in the education of their children. Among the provisions are the right to review instruction materials; access to students' academic, medical, safety and criminal records; opt-out of certain assignments; and notification if their child is receiving certain services such as counseling or therapy.

The office of State Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal issued a news release last Wednesday, the day before the new law took effect, stating it violated certain federal privacy protections for students.

"Some of these records contain personal information and are protected under the Federal Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), and as such, cannot be disclosed without the student's consent," the release said.

Reykdal's office has asked Washington's 295 school district not to implement the new law, Just The News reported.

Meg Kilgannon is the Family Research Council's senior fellow for education studies and a former Department of Education employee in the Trump administration.

Kilgannon, Meg (FRC) Kilgannon

"The interesting thing about it is this superintendent of schools has been in office since 2016, and he's in a primary this August – a primary where the top two vote-getters get to be on the ballot in November," Kilgannon mentioned on Washington Watch Friday. "He thinks it's a good idea for him to oppose a parents bill of rights that wasn't just passed by the legislature, but the legislature was forced to pass it because the citizens of Washington State through a ballot initiative voted for it."

Numerous Republican-led states have directed their local schools not to comply with the rewritten Title IX regulations handed down by the Biden administration. The rewrite places emphasis on "gender identity" over a student's biological gender and, among other things, works to undermine state protections against the presence of males in the public spaces of females.

Males on female sports teams is not mentioned directly but is inferred according to legal analysis, The Washington Times reports.

Don't confuse this with reaction to Title IX

A t least 15 states have filed lawsuits against the Biden administration over the Title IX rewrite. These states are emphasizing parental involvement in the education of their children while Reykdal is endangering it, Kilgannon explained.

"It's completely different [than the Washington situation] because the Biden administration is forcing states to adopt a federal policy when the longstanding tradition in the United States is that schools are locally controlled. We want families to be in charge of their children's education. We want local control so that the values of our communities are infused into our students. This is since the founding of our nation," Kilgannon emphasized.

Initiative 2081 is one of three voter initiatives passed by the Washington legislature this term. The others are Initiative 2111, which prohibits the imposition of income tax by the state and by local governments; and Initiative 211 gives police greater freedom in vehicle pursuits of suspected criminals in certain situations.

"This state superintendent is trying to undermine the people of his state, who have said they want to locally control their schools, and they just want to be informed of what's happening in their schools," Kilgannon said – adding that in her opinion, Initiative 2081 really doesn't go far enough to strength parental rights.

"This legislation doesn't stop the Washington bureaucrats from doing really grievous things. It just says that parents have a right to be notified if those things are done – and this is even too much for the state superintendent," she said.

A hopeful sign in the Northwest

Still, the initiatives are a good sign in a blue state, Kilgannon argued. Washington has had Democratic control of the governor's office and both chambers of the legislature since 2018. It has had a Democratic governor since at least 1992.

"This is such a hopeful sign. The voters in Washington state passed three initiatives, and in a state like Washington that is so deeply blue and has been so under the control of the Democratic Party for so long, when you see an initiative like this movement that we've been seeing for parents' rights is finally getting some traction, [it signals] we're getting some place," Kilgannon concluded.